Judge appoints attorney to represent Flatoff at standoff trial

Brian Flatoff arrives at court for his trial. March 5, 2018 (WBAY)

WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A man who has been representing himself during his trial for a deadly motorcycle shop standoff has been appointed an attorney to take over for the remainder of the trial.

Brian Flatoff is standing trial for 16 felony counts related to the 2015 hostage situation and standoff at Eagle Nation Cycles.

The trial started March 5 with Flatoff serving as his own attorney. On Thursday, he asked Judge John Jorgensen if he could have an attorney represent him. The judge appointed standby counsel Ben Szilagyi to serve as Flatoff's attorney.

Szilagyi immediately asked for a mistrial, saying he is not prepared to argue on Flatoff's behalf. The judge denied that request.

Investigators say Flatoff went to Eagle Nation Cycles on Dec. 5, 2015, to confront a man he accused of stealing his motorcycle.

The man was not there, but Flatoff, armed with a gun, took people in the shop hostage. That escalated to a shootout with law enforcement.

Hostage Michael Funk was shot and killed by police after he escaped the cycle shop during a shootout. Prosecutors charged Flatoff for being responsible for Funk's death because of the incidents they say he set in motion that day.

Flatoff was granted the right to represent himself after telling the judge his 10 prior lawyers failed him. During a hearing in January, Flatoff accused former attorneys of withholding evidence and "other misconduct."

With Flatoff representing himself, cross-examination was going much slower than expected. Judge Jorgensen urged Flatoff to focus his questioning in attempts to keep the trial moving.

The state wrapped testimony on Wednesday. Flatoff was to begin calling witnesses on Thursday.

The trial was adjourned for the day shortly after 3 p.m. Testimony will resume Friday with Szilagyi representing Flatoff.

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